Shoe Cobbling has Never been so Niche
From watching various cobblers work on shoes to creating his own masterpieces, Dominic Chambrone dove into his passions and enthusiasm for custom shoes. Better known as the Shoe Surgeon, Chambrone strives to share his skill set with the world.
ZOG Digital spoke with Chambrone about his role as an influencer within the realm of shoemaking. He has partnered with many brands, been featured in Complex and Sneaker Freaker, and has made shoes for stars like DJ Khaled and Young Thug. We were able to sneak in some time in with Chambrone to discuss his start within the industry and ambitions.
ZD: How did you find your way into the realm of shoes?
Chambrone: I would say it all started in high school. I was always a quiet and shy kid. I found that through the expression of dress with clothes and shoes, was a way for me to express myself and start a conversation.
One day I picked up an airbrush and painted a pair of shoes. The response I got from my peers was great. People loved them. It just clicked. I knew that creating shoes was something I had to do. Airbrush painting turned into a progressiveness for figuring out how to make shoes.
ZD: When did you want to start making shoes on your own?
Chambrone: In high school at 16 years old. I was working at a store that had a lot of shoe releases. I would get Jordans early and then wear them, but then all my friends would all end up having the same shoes. That’s what sparked it! I couldn’t be someone that has the same shoe as someone else. So I picked up the airbrush, painted my first pair of shoes, got crazy feedback, and the rest is history.
ZD: When did you decide custom was the best shoe option and then to share that with the rest of the world?
Chambrone: It never really was about that. It was easier for me to make my own shoes rather than having to go somewhere and producing mass amounts of shoes. It just happened naturally, I guess.
However, the further I get into the business the more I understand mass production and enjoy it. But I still think shoes should always feel like they’re limited. I think for me, it’s more about creating something unique for a customer whether there are 10 pairs, 25 pairs, or just one.
ZD: Who is the most popular person who’s worn your work?
Chambrone: Oh wow! I’ve done so many now, I don’t even recall.
This might be surprising, but I did the TV show, Law And Order. Yeah, that was pretty fun – making and designing all of their shoes. I did that in my earlier years. I’ve done shoes for so many celebrities that it’s hard to determine who is the most popular.
ZD: Did you ever think this passion would allow you to make a living?
Chambrone: I mean, I always wrote it down and dreamed about it. I’ve always doubted myself too, but I think at the same time, I subconsciously knew it was going to happen.
ZD: When did you decide to open up your own site and start using social media for your brand?
Chambrone: I think it was about seven or eight years ago when this all started.
Instagram took me to another level. That platform helps me, as well as many other artists to be able to show their work. It was pretty interesting to me, so I listened to a podcast about how Instagram started and I found it pretty amazing.
ZD: What opportunities has the passion opened up for you?
Chambrone: Well, it pays the bills and provides a decent life. I’ve been able to work with companies like Adidas, Reebok, and Puma. I mean the opportunities are really what let me create and do what I want to, rather than having some random full-time job.
I’m also featured and partnered with ROOY. They’re making an easier way for people to produce shoes overseas and it’s great to be partnered with a company like that.
ZD: What’s next on the agenda for you?
Chambrone: I guess for me, it’s to launch an original line. It’ll be mainly sneakers, but it will have boots and even high-heels. I’m excited!
Follow Dominic’s creations on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.